How To Make Money As a Freelance Writer [10 Ways]

Making money online with your own freelance writing business definitely takes a little work. But you don't have to be a wizard to do it.

Case in point: me.

In today's article, I'll break down exactly what you need to do to make money as a freelance writer.

Before trying to make money writing online, read this:

There are a lot of influencers on TikTok, Twitter, and LinkedIn who make it seem like freelance writing is easy to get into. If you buy their course, "You'll start making $10,000/month in no time!"

They're selling pipe dreams. There's no such thing as a 'get rich quick' scheme. And if there were, freelance writing wouldn't be it.

Successful freelance writers (myself included) work hard for it. Before you get paid to write, remember these four things:

  • You will have to get out of your comfort zone. Shift your mindset from 'employee' to 'business owner.'
  • You will face rejection. Most people won’t need your services or want to talk to you.
  • Nobody's coming to save you. You're responsible for everything from client delivery to quarterly taxes.
  • You need actual writing skills. If ChatGPT outperforms you, you'll never be able to charge livable copywriting rates.
  • Writing helps you "escape the 9-5," but clients are similar to employers — you still have to do the work.

If you can handle those four things, congrats. You're ready to begin a prosperous freelance writing career.

How to Make Money as a Freelance Writer [Step-By-Step]

The steps below logically progress from one to the next. At #1, you’re a beginner. By #10, you’re a grandmaster.

Each step of the way, you’re making more money than the last.

1) Start With Gigs

Every writer starts with freelance writing gigs. That's how you get your reps in, and it weeds out people who aren't cut out for it.

The most common platforms are:

Look for entry-level job postings like the one below and apply to them.

With jobs like these, you can make a couple thousand bucks per month. That’ll pay the bills while you hone your skills.

That said, I wouldn't stick with Upwork/Fiverr for too long.

A few years ago, you could make a six-figure income on freelancer platforms alone. But they've built a reputation as marketplaces for cheap labor (usually from a third-world country). Based on what I've seen from algorithm updates and heard from other freelancers, they've doubled down on this.

So, you're going to work (primarily) with cheap clients who don't respect you. They'll penny-pinch for everything, give you ridiculous amounts of revisions, and know so little about marketing that it'll piss you off.  

This is a good thing. It'll teach you valuable lessons about selling writing services:

  • Handling difficult client situations
  • Managing frustration
  • Spotting and avoiding bad clients
  • Knowing when to fire a client

Plus, you'll be 100x more grateful and motivated once you move past.

You can also try your luck with job boards like ProBlogger for more stable gigs.

Just keep in mind that, without experience, these writing jobs are a harder sell.

Alternatively, find clients yourself (you’ll need to later on, anyway). Read this section of my article about building a portfolio with no experience to learn how.

2) Learn Copywriting

To get past the first stage, learn everything you can about copywriting in tandem with building your writing portfolio.

Keep in mind: You already know how to write. By first grade, everyone does. Copywriting is understanding why people buy things or connect with a particular message.

  • Read Cashvertising once. Read Copyblogger and Very Good Copy on an ongoing basis.
  • Save great ads, landing pages, blogs, and sales letters in a swipe file.
  • Take your clients' edits and suggestions to heart, even if you disagree.
  • Reverse-engineer funnels and newsletters to understand the processes surrounding your writing.
  • Follow copywriters on social media.
  • Write every day. I'm not kidding.

That last one is CRUCIAL. Remember, writing is like any other skill; it takes practice to get better at it.

For more context, I have an entire article where I break down how to get better at copywriting.

3) Carve Out Your Niche

A lot of people think a writing niche is a particular industry you write for (e.g., travel, ecommerce, SaaS). It's deeper than that.

A copywriting niche is the intersection of:

  • The industries/topics you write effectively for
  • The type of copywriting you do (for example, direct response)
  • A high-paying market with enough demand to sustain your business

Once you have a niche, you'll gain three things:

  • Targeted knowledge — Clients will pay more for specialists.
  • Efficiency — You'll do more work in less time.
  • Momentum — Once you know what you do, you can brand yourself, sell it to clients, and build a network around it.

My niche is Twitter ghostwriting. Once I decided I was going to grow others' Twitter accounts, I became obsessed. I worked faster, drove more results for my clients, and was able to charge up to $12,000/month for my services.

4) Discover Your Ideal Clients

Up until now, you're taking whatever job you can get. With a little momentum, you can be more selective.

An ideal client is someone who:

  • Stays in their lane and trusts your expertise
  • Has a product or service you're happy to vouch for
  • Already sees the value in what you do

By this point, you should know who these people are and how to vet them.

I work with CEOs, Twitter influencers, and successful business owners. They trust me because I've built a personal brand around Twitter marketing. They're already on Twitter, so they know the value of growing their account.

5) Get Case Studies

When you succeed for an ideal client and develop a relationship, that's your big break.

Once you publish their results, you have two things going for you:

  • Hard proof your skills work.
  • A predictable revenue stream.

To get a case study, put your writing as close to the money as possible from day one. Track a metric over time, and set up an attribution model to credit your copy.

This could be:

  • Newsletter signups
  • Leads/demos booked
  • Website traffic
  • Sales revenue
  • Brand awareness

At this stage, raise your rates (proportional to the results you drive).

And, get client testimonials like these:

6) Grow Your Social Media Presence

While others are doom scrolling, you can build relationships and credibility with people in the same industry.

I've amassed 250,000 followers on Twitter. And...let's just say I'm not doing cold outreach anymore.

To start, pick one of the two:

  • Twitter — for a younger crowd of marketers and entrepreneurs
  • LinkedIn — for more traditional, 'corporate-y' niches

Once you have your niche, create a personal brand around your story and profession.

Here's what that means:

  • Consistent engagement — I show up on Twitter every day because I want my followers to feel like when they see my tweets, they're hearing from a friend.
  • A pinned tweet — My pinned tweet highlights my story. That way, when someone lands on my page, they know me within seconds.
  • Unique content — In your content, don't just talk about copywriting. And don't tweet platitudes. Talk about your journey, situation, and original thoughts. Then, watch your services sell themselves.
  • Transparency — Be honest about the good and bad days.

You can dissect my Twitter to get a feel for what I mean.

7) Make Money Writing on X (Twitter)

Through your growing network and personal brand, you'll start seeing other opportunities.

  • Businesses will reach out for projects or refer clients to you.
  • You'll join freelance writer groups
  • You collaborate with others to create products or services.
  • You'll create new products based on your success on the platform.

Treat social media like a second business, and you'll diversify your freelance writing income.

8) Pitch Via DMs or Cold Email

It goes down in the DMs.

With a proven track record of success under your belt and a decent-looking social media profile, you can sell your writing services with confidence (and more success).

  • Create a list of social media by searching keywords and going through your followers (and your followers' followers).
  • Use to find prospects' emails.
  • Start sending.

If you're worried, don't be. This is your competition:

A little personalization goes a long way.

  • Verify they fit your ICP (ideal client profile)
  • Don't sound like a bot
  • Keep It Simple, Stupid! Offer a small suggestion for growth or ask a basic question. 50 words or less.

Also, pay attention to who engages your content. A prospect might like one of your posts or follow you, which is an automatic invitation to DM them.

9) Start a Blog or Newsletter

Running your own blog is fantastic because:

  • You'll build authority on Google, not just socials
  • Each blog post is a testament to your writing skills
  • Other writers and potential clients will see you as a thought leader

Newsletters are also great because they entertain and educate your audience. You can also use them to sell digital products (your own or affiliates).

To get a feel for how freelance writers run their newsletters, subscribe to mine and analyze it.

10) Productize Yourself By Selling Information

I always say freelance writing is the gateway to a lifetime of entrepreneurship. It teaches you valuable lessons about business, but you'll always trade your time for money.

You have to diversify.

As a writer, your best move is to find what worked in your journey, then teach it to writers 2 steps behind you.

  • Whitepapers and eBooks
  • Full-fledged courses
  • Coaching programs

Create those in one instance, then sell them forever.

Businesses pay freelance writers a fraction of the value they create. For you, the possibilities are endless. Read my newsletter, where I give 11,000+ others my best insights about writing and business.

Who is Dakota?

I show you how to build a high-paying creative business without doing work you hate.

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